Thursday, November 17, 2011

Would you sell out your house in order to save it from foreclosure?

Here's the thing. I don't like the look of it either. I'm talking about those Bank of America ads on the Wabash Avenue bridge houses in Chicago. Have you seen them? Yeah, they're not pretty.

Our new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, signed a 30-day lease with Bank of America for that space, according to the Chicago Tribune. Why? To raise money, of course. Chicago needs it. Bad. And nobody likes this idea. Nobody.

But... I wonder...

Would you do the same thing if you could to save your house in foreclosure?

Would you, if you could, lease the roof of your house to Bank of America? Wells Fargo? Pepsi Cola? What about the front of your house? Would you wrap your whole house like a car in an Exxon Mobile banner?


What if it was temporary and it meant you could pay off your mortgage?

Yeah. That's what I thought. You'd do it, right? Your neighbors would hate you for it. But you'd do it. And maybe they'd hate you a little less knowing that you just saved their property value by avoiding foreclosure.

I'd do it. Totally. To save our house? Heck yeah.

Actually, according to Bob that's not true.

I was telling him about how I was going to write this blog post and ask people if they would sell ad space on their houses if it meant they could save their homes from foreclosure. Here's how that conversation went:

BOB: We talked about that.
ME: We did?
BOB: Yeah. I totally wanted to do that.

ME: You did?

BOB: Yes.

STEPH: You wanted to sell ad space on our house?

BOB: Yes. I wanted to call Bank of America and see if we could lease them our roof space for a banner or something but you were totally against it.

ME: I don't remember that.

BOB: Well... probably because you didn't want to do it.

So, there you go. I apparently didn't even want to investigate the possibility of selling ad space on our roof to save our house. Funny how short the memory is. Bob was Mayor Daley floating the idea and I was the general public railing passionately against it even though it could possibly save our house.

Though I don't remember it, I can imagine that I was horrified by the thought of a Bank of America banner wrapping our house. But wouldn't I have at least wanted to try? Thinking about it now, I assume that I would have completely gone for it because, well, anything to save the house, right? Apparently not anything. And why not?

Everyone is railing against our new mayor calling this leasing of city property for ad space a huge mistake. And I get it. It is a slippery slope. No one likes to be marketed 24-7. And our architecture is so precious to us. We Chicagoans are extremely proud of our architecture. We don't want to taint it with obnoxious banners and corporate logos. We don't want to completely sell out, no matter how terrible things are.

Mayor Emanuel plans to bring in $25 million for the city through this sort of advertising. And if he's right, if it works, would it be worth it? I don't know. Feel free to chime in. Please. That kind of money could save a lot of jobs and programs, right? So it could be worth it?

And I'll ask again, if you could sell ad space on your house to save it, would you? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

For more information about the new ads downtown Chicago, check out these links:

Dear Mayor: Don't cheapen our public spaces - Chicago Tribune

Emanuel's ad quest for dollars not as easy as it sounds - Chicago Tribune

(The photos are courtesy of Bob Walker. Thanks for braving the cold on your lunch break, honey!)
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